Whether you're a beginning biker, a competitive cyclist, an office worker on a lunchbreak, or anyone in need of a bite to eat or some caffeine, Rouler has something to get your wheels turning.
Rouler is a new bike-themed café in the CBD that offers pastries from Gracious Bakery, coffee from French Truck, beers from local brewery Urban South, and wine—with a bike on the label—from Squadra out of Boulder, Colorado. Rouler's selection of sandwiches are all named after famous bikers (the Lance Armstrong, for instance, is house-made chicken salad, dressed, with a side of chips), and they also serve salads and breakfast items (until 11 a.m.).
But this is more than just a café. It's also a bike shop with sales, service, and rentals. Rouler builds their own bikes and manufactures their own line of bike apparel. They have three bike mechanics on-site and are beginning to do some custom bike apparel for certain markets. (Appropriately, Rouler means "to roll" in French, and also just happens to be the family name of a long line of French bicycle builders and riders.)
Co-owner Wes McWhorter wants Rouler to be a lifestyle brand, not just a bike shop. "Cycling is a way of life. My life mainly consists of bikes, food, wine, and friends, and that's what I wanted to bring to others through Rouler."
According to Wes, the focus of Rouler is on the hospitality of bikes. "We want to show people that we care about them and understand what they need," he says. "We are trying to develop relationships." For starters, Wes aims to accommodate his patrons with more flexible hours. Open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Rouler allows anyone to fit some bike or café time into their busy schedules. They also promote nine different bike races throughout Louisiana and Mississippi, and host several bike-related events and activities. There are on-site figure drawing sessions (with the model wearing bike gear), several different social rides, and broadcasts of any major bike event on the big-screen TVs in the café. And whether or not you're a cyclist, you can still take advantage of their free movie nights or Happy Hour with $1 off all drinks.
But where Rouler really steps up the bike hospitality game: if you need them, they'll come to you. Schedule an appointment online, and their "mobile bike shop" will drive on over to pick up, drop off, service, or even wash your bike. You can easily spot their van, painted in the characteristic Rouler colors of purple, turquoise, and white, rolling around town.
On a side note, someone stole my bike the other day. Again. This is the third one I've had stolen in three years (along with one bike seat, hoisted right off my bike). And while, naturally, I'm appropriately peeved, I've decided to chalk it up to the fact that people in New Orleans just really love bikes. And, apparently, they especially love mine.
New Orleans has become quite the biking city (forgive me if I don't call it "bike friendly," under the circumstances). And though we do seem to have a rampant bike theft problem—with at least one official website devoted to the issue—we also have a great biking community made up of plenty of good, bike-loving folks who just want to bike for leisure, transport, exercise, or a way to meet other biking enthusiasts. We have plenty of social rides (including a naked one), bike trails, a bike share program, biking tour groups, and all types and levels of bicyclists. And those are the people that we're focusing on here—the people that Wes and co-owner Zack Thomas opened Rouler in order to cater to.
So, come by Rouler for coffee, a sandwich, or a tune-up. They'll even assemble a bike for you if you order one online as a replacement when yours is stolen, and it arrives in a box in many pieces. Just saying.
Rouler is located at 601 Baronne St. in the CBD. 504-603-2781, rouler.cc